Los Angeles Angels vs. Boston Red Sox Preview and Pick – Weaver vs. Matsuzaka

Los Angeles Angels (64-40) +145, 9 at Boston Red Sox (61-45), 7 pm Eastern Monday, ESPN
by Zman of Predictem.com

Two teams that must be considered among the top contenders for the American League pennant and more meet again when the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox commence a three-game series Monday night at Fenway Park.

Baseball Bookies are listing Boston and starting pitcher Diasuke Matsuzaka (11-1, 2.63, 1.36 WHIP) as 160 home favorites for Monday’s game, with a total of 9, while Los Angeles and Jered Weaver (8-8, 4.08, 1.27) are getting +140 as road underdogs.

The Angels are 7-2 since the All-Star break after taking two of three games in Baltimore over the weekend. On the other side of this match-up, the Sox are 4-5 since the break after losing two of three games to the New York Yankees over the weekend.

So going into this week’s play, LA leads the AL West by 10 1/2 games over the second-place Texas Rangers, while Boston is in second place in the AL East, one game behind the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays.

LA is a ML-best 33-19 on the road this year, an impressive 21-11 as underdogs, and 54-50 vs. the run line.

Boston is 37-13 at home this season, 51-28 as favorites, and 52-53 vs. the run line.

The Angels swept three games from the Sox two weeks ago in LA, and have won five of six games in this series this season. The totals are 3-3 in those six games, which have averaged 10.5 total runs per.

Last year, Boston took the season series from the Angels six games to four, with the totals going 6-3-1, as the games averaged 10.6 runs. And the Red Sox swept LA out of the playoff in the first round, winning three straight games by scores of 4-0, 6-3 and 9-1.

Weaver threw just three innings last Tuesday vs. Cleveland before leaving the game with a stiff throwing shoulder. Over his last three starts, Weaver has allowed five ER and 20 baserunners (hits + walks) in 16 1/3 IP. LA is 10-10 in Weaver’s starts this year, the totals 8-12.

Weaver started three games vs. Boston last season, including once in that playoff series, and has started once this year vs. the Sox. Over those four games, Weaver got clipped for 15 ER and 34 BR in 20 1/3 IP. The Angels won just one of those games, with the totals going 3-1.

Over his last three starts, including a solid performance vs. Seattle last Tuesday, Matsuzaka has given up two ER and 26 BR in 20 1/3 IP. Boston is 14-3 in Matsuzaka’s starts this year, the totals 6-10.

Matsuzaka has started one game in his ML career vs. the Angels, which came in that playoff series last year. He allowed three ER and 10 BR in 4 2/3 IP of a 6-3 Sox win.

Offensively, LA ranks 14th in the majors this season in team BA at .261, 23rd in team OBP at .322, 22nd in team slugging at .398, and is averaging 4.5 runs per game.

Boston ranks 2nd in batting at .280, 1st in OBP at .355, 5th in slugging at .443, and is averaging 5.0 RPG.

Over the last five games, the Los Angeles bullpen has allowed seven ER and 20 BR in 19 IP.

Over its’ last five games, the Boston pen has given up four ER and 15 BR in 16 IP.

On the personnel front, Sox slugger David Ortiz returned to the line-up Friday after missing 45 games with a wrist injury.

The totals are 39-60 in Angels games this year, 47-50 in Red Sox games, and 23-25 in games played at Fenway Park, which are averaging 9.5 total runs this season.

Zman’s Pick: Matsuzaka has only given away 3 earned runs in his last 30 innings. How are you supposed to go against that? YOU DON’T. Take the Sox tonight.